[OSGeo-Discuss] Next 5 years for OSGeo

Charlie Schweik cschweik at pubpol.umass.edu
Fri Oct 2 08:29:18 PDT 2009

Ian Turton wrote:
> Currently universities are locked in a vicious circle with GIS
> software in that the students demand we teach them on ESRI software
> because that's what employers want and employers use ESRI software as
> that is what the universities are teaching the students on.
> So *I* think that universities are a lost cause 
I've had a slightly different experience. I've been teaching an early 
undergrad "Intro to Spatial Technologies" course to natural resource 
conservation students and have successfully used QGIS in this teaching. 
Some bugs we hit bothered some students, but many liked the idea that 
they had a GIS system on their laptops and that they could do some real 
integration of aerial photos, GIS layers, and simple database 
construction on their own machines. They could do the homeworks whenever 
they wanted, rather than go to designated computer labs. They could use 
it on their own projects after the class was over.  At the same time, 
they knew that  the job market looked for experience with other 
platforms.  So currently I teach a higher-level Applied GIS course using 
ESRI products as I always have. But I think this is one way to get 
college students exposed and potentially using open GIS technologies.

This connects back to my earlier education post that Frank Warmerdam 
responded to. He asked:

"I would have thought it would be more productive to take existing 
curriculum guidelines and get project support in rebuilding them around
foss projects/products. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding?"

I agree with this point, and I think that is what some, like Tyler M  
has been suggesting. However, I find myself wondering from a 
technology-learning angle, are there more specialized knowledge needed 
in the FOSS Geo space?

What kinds of skills are needed to contribute to the further development 
of various FOSS Geo technologies (this gets at the "joining/recruitment" 
issue of new developers) or building a community of user-driven 

And what kinds of skills are needed for users of FOSS Geo technologies?  
E.g., Desktop or Web-based GIS? For example, if I want to show a student 
how to map using OpenLayers, what would that student need to know? Or 
what skills would a student need to have to implement a Map Server 
application?  Is the idea of a curriculum around "FOSS Geo technologies" 
-- such as a "certificate" -- a useful idea for us to pursue?

Or am I off target here? If I'm not, I'm open to ideas on how to 
mobilize a group to work on this curriculum effort... William Kinghorn 
who I met in South Africa has written ideas on "exam areas" that might 
be a start... if people want to join in this idea let me know and 
perhaps I should schedule a Skype conference call to discuss more... I'd 
also like to find someone to take the lead on organizing and running 
this curriculum effort.


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